When a police officer knocks on a California resident’s door, the person might not be aware that he or she has rights when facing a police officer. These rights are enshrined in the US Constitution, with the Fourth Amendment being the most important of them. As per the Fourth Amendment, before police officers can make an arrest, search an area or even get a warrant, the police must show that there was probable cause.
Probable cause can differ from situation to situation and also on what the end result is. For example, in cases of arresting someone, probable cause is found when there is reasonable basis for suspecting a crime has been committed. Similarly, there must be a reasonable basis for believing evidence will be present in the place being searched before the search can be conducted.
Unfortunately, there are no specific criteria as to what probable cause means in the US Constitution. Courts have interpreted it in various ways, but generally agree that it depends on the situation and is a fluid concept. However, when the alleged crimes are serous, courts are more likely to take a more flexible and broader definition of probable cause.
This is not to say that an arrest or search can be conducted without a warrant. if the relevant authorities can show exigent circumstances, people can be arrested without a warrant. however, they are supposed to be presented in front of a judicial authority promptly after the arrest in order to assess the probable cause.
Authorities must follow certain procedure in order to make sure a defendant’s constitutional rights are not infringed upon at any point. However, rights are violated commonly in the criminal justice system and mounting an aggressive criminal defense highlighting those violations is one way to ensure justice is served.